“Maria’s undoubtedly had to grow up faster than other children and her care role can be quite full on. So having access to the young carers service is incredibly valuable, as Maria gets the chance to do the things that can be difficult for us to do as a family, like going to the cinema, swimming, socialising with friends or just playing outside.” Marina Shah, mother to young carer Maria.

Maria helps care for her twin sister, Sharia, and Mum Marina. Maria helps Sharia get dressed, clean her teeth, go to the toilet, shower and makes her food. She also supports her family with the housework by doing the dishes, cleaning, tidying up and making food and drinks.

Shaira was diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) shortly after her birth and has relied on support from her twin sister and family from a young age.

PWS is a complex genetic disorder, with the main issue that children and adults often have extreme hunger, never feel full and can literally eat themselves to death if not carefully supervised. It can also cause low muscle tone with consequent motor development delays and mild to moderate learning difficulties.

Support from Shropshire Young Carers

Maria, age 11, lives with her family in Whitchurch, Shropshire. She uses the Crossroads Together Shropshire Young Carers service, part of TuVida, that is funded by Shropshire Council.

Shropshire Young Carers offers a free support service to young carers across the county, giving young people the chance to take part in activities and trips they might not ordinarily be able to do because of caring responsibilities. The service also works with schools and families to ensure young carers are identified and offered support.

Maria’s mother, Marina, had to give up work due to her caring responsibilities and has health issues herself, so relies on Maria’s help around the house. 

Marina said: “The young carers service lets Maria be herself for a bit. She has friends she’s met through the service who understand what it’s like to be a carer and the extra pressures that come with it. It’s boosted her confidence and gives her independence. The service is a real lifeline for her.”

Contact Shropshire Young Carers